By Niall Green, wsws.org, 24 February 2011Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators took to the streets of Bahrain’s capital, Manama, this week. Defying government demands to end protests, amid vicious police attacks on crowds last week that left an estimated eight people dead and hundreds more wounded, crowds called for the fall of the regime and justice for slain protestors.
Manama’s Pearl Square has become the focal point of the protests in Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom in the Persian Gulf that is home to a major United States military base. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his family rule the country with the support of Washington and the neighboring kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Police had brutally attacked sleeping demonstrators in the square in the early hours of Friday morning, firing teargas and shotguns, and beating men, women and children. Following the withdrawal of security forces from Pearl Square over the weekend, hundreds of people have re-established a protest camp there.
Monday’s demonstration was billed as the “march of loyalty to the martyrs,” in reference to those killed by the regime. Many chanted for the removal of the ruling dynasty, though the main object of popular rage is the prime minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman, the king’s uncle, who has headed the government since 1971.